Nanakuli Conquers Kona to Continue Surprise Run
By Josh Pacheco / BigIslandNow.com
Nanakuli coach Skippy Lopes said before Saturday’s game that his team wasn’t simply happy to make their first ever state tournament appearance. He said his team’s goal was to follow in the footsteps of King Kamehameha and “conquer” their opponents.
Step one, a victory over the Big Island Interscholastic Federation champion Konawaena Wildcats, is complete. Next step, defeating the league champion from the island of Maui.
The Nanakuli defense held Konawaena’s ground game to only 29 yards and forced the game-winning safety to defeat the Wildcats 25-23 in the opening round of the First Hawaiian Bank / Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division II Football Championships at Julian Yates Field.
With the game tied at 23, Konawaena got the football off of a punt at their own seven yard line with just over four minutes to play. A few plays into the drive, Nanakuli’s stifling defense pressured quarterback Lii Karratti into the endzone to avoid a sack. Sending that his time was running thin, Karratti threw the ball about three yards in front of him near a pair of offensive lineman. Because he did not throw the ball across the line of scrimmage, he was called for intentional grounding, which resulted in a safety because the infraction happend in the endzone. That gave Nanakuli the 25-23 lead with 2:32 remaining in the game.
Konawaena (9-5) would get the ball back with :02 left after Nanakuli failed to entirely run out the clock. The Wildcats ran a hook-and-lateral but failed to get inside Nanakuli’s 40 yard line, ending the game.
Nanakuli (7-4) will continue their special postseason run in the semifinals next Saturday. The fourth-seed in the Oahu Interscholastic Association White Division tournament punched their ticket to the big dance with a shocking win over Kaiser High School in the tournament semifinals, then lost to Radord in the league championship game. They will face Lahainaluna on November 17 at Hawaiian Airlines Field at Aloha Stadium. The game will begin at 4:00 p.m. and will be televised on OC16.
The Wildcats did hold an early lead following Karratti’s two-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter. The extra point try failed after a bad snap, leaving the score at 6-0 with 5:50 left in the first quarter.
Nanakuli’s offense started to get going in the second quarter. Standout junior quarterback Chazz Troutman scored an 18-yard touchdown run, and Joseph Shelton’s extra point gave the Golden Hawks a 7-6 lead with 10:20 left in the opening half.
Konawaena dominated the rest of the half. On the very next drive, Karratti found Domonic Morris for a 23-yard touchdown strike. Morris brought the ball down with his left hand and used his body to secure the sensational catch. John Replogle’s extra point gave the Wildcats a 13-7 lead with 8:12 left in the half.
Later in the quarter, Bubba Ellis-Noa would rush into the endzone from a yard out, extending the Konawaena lead to 20-7 with 1:25 left in the half. Then, after stopping the Golden Hawks, Konawaena got the football back with :15 left at their own 25 yard line. After a long pass play got Konawaena down to the 16 yard line, the Wildcats left one tick on the clock for Replogle to drill a 32-yard field goal, extending the lead to 23-7.
That would be the last time the Wildcats would light up the scoreboard. They entered the second half without star running back John Kamoku, who left the game with an injured shoulder. He finished with six carries and 16 yards. The Wildcats also lost linebacker Evyn Yamaguchi at halftime, also with a shoulder injury.
Nanakuli’s offense would start to roll. Khade Paris broke through a gaping hole on the right side of the offensive line and scored a 23-yard touchdown run. Troutman’s two-point completion to Lansen Liki cut the Konawaena lead to 23-15 with 7:46 in the third quarter. Then, in the fourth, Troutman got his second touchdown run from 11 yards away. His two-point pass to Brandon Felisi tied the game at 23 with 7:26 remaining.
Troutman, Nanakuli’s lead rusher and passer, statistically did not have a great day. He finished with 67 yards passing and two second-half interceptions. He also had 33 yards rushing on 14 carries. Paris carried the load offensively, rushing for 135 yards on 20 carries.
The offensive load for Konawaena fell on Karratti once Kamoku left the game with his shoulder injury. Karratti finished with 295 yards passing on only nine completions with a touchdown and an interception. However, the team’s ground game was not a difference late in the game, allowing Nanakuli to focus on stopping the Wildcats’ passing attack.
Nanakuli 0 7 8 10 – 25
Konawaena 6 17 0 0 – 23
Saturday’s Scoring Summary
1st (5:50) – KONAWAENA: Lii Karratti 2 yd TD run (Cho 2PT run failed)
2nd (10:20) – NANAKULI: Chazz Troutman 18 yd TD runn (Joseph Shelton XPT good)
2nd (8:12) – KONAWAENA: Karratti 23 yd TD pass to Domonic Morris (John Replogle XPT good)
2nd (1:25) – KONAWAENA: Bubba Ellis-Noa 1 yd TD run (Replogle XPT good)
2nd (:00) – KONAWAENA: Replogle 32 yd field goal
3rd (7:46) – NANAKULI: Khade Paris 23 yd TD run (Troutman 2PT pass to Lansen Liki good)
4th (7:26) – NANAKULI: Troutman 11 yd TD run (Troutman 2PT pass to Brandon Felisi good)
4th (2:32) – NANAKULO: Safety (intentional grounding in the end zone)